Word Carving: The Craft of Literary Journalism


349 pages
ISBN 1-894773-02-0
DDC C814'.608





Edited by Moira Farr and Ian Pearson
Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University. She is the author of several books, including The
Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret
Laurence: The Long Journey Home.


In Word Carving, Farr and Pearson have gathered some very fine works of
non-fiction by 12 very talented writers.

The stories range widely in topic and style. In “Lea and Me,” New
Yorker Philip Marchand reflects on his experience in 1964 at St.
Michael’s College, University of Toronto, when he was 17. It was there
that he discovered the intellectual Catholicism of Jacques Maritain and
Etienne Gilson that altered his life.

In “The Motorcycle and the Archive,” Ted Bishop, a motorcycle
aficionado, describes how he received a grant to study the first readers
(not the reviewers) of James Joyce’s Ulysses. While “cruising” the
literary archives at the Harry Ransom Centre in Austin, Texas, Bishop
experienced an “archival jolt” from Joyce’s letters, one that
radically altered his understanding of Joyce.

In “Nocturne: Remembering Pianist Samuel Sanders,” poet and music
critic Joanna Keller reflects on the pianist who was famous for
accompanying many of the 20th century’s great musical talents, such as
cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Beverly Sills. Those who knew Sanders saw
his life as an ongoing miracle, given his health problems.

The other contributors are Camilla Gibb (“Foreigners”), Chris
Koentges (“The Pedro Guerrero Principle”), Katherine Ashenburg
(“Doctors’ Daughters: Helen, Sue, and Me”), Anita Lahey
(“Confessions of a Eulogist”), Douglas Bell (“The Accidental
Course of My Illness”), A-A Farman-Farmaian (“Hiding Places”),
Alyse Frampton (“My American Father”), Matthew Hart (“Stealing
Vermeer”), and Ellen Vanstone (“Post Traumatic Stress: How I Learned
to Stop Worrying About Conrad Black’s Evil Plan to Destroy Canada’s
Universal Health-Care System and Love My Job at the National Post”).

Like good wine, Wood Carving is a book to savour.


“Word Carving: The Craft of Literary Journalism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17915.